A high-quality website is an incredible way to market your massage practice. It increases your visibility and credibility, and gives instant access to information about you and your services. Think of it as an electronic brochure. A website makes it possible for existing clients to refer people to you more easily.
With a website in place, it's easier to avail yourself of budget-friendly online marketing tools. For example, potential clients can find you easily if you are listed at: Superpages, www.superpages.com; or Switchboard, www.switchboard.com. Your website makes it easy to see if you offer the techniques or services they're looking for.
You can also enhance your "convenience quotient" by adding an online scheduling component to your site. An e-newsletter archive with news, health tips, and special promotions also adds interest and value to your site.
If those aren't enough reasons to spark your interest in a website, talk to any massage therapist with a website and you'll hear rave reviews about online coupons. These easy-to-use promotional tools-which can be printed from your site and redeemed for introductory visits or special promotions-are proven business builders. Online coupons are one of the most effective ways to attract new clients and build loyalty with existing clients.
A website can also make it easy for time-pressed clients to purchase gift certificates and package deals. In short, you want a website that educates new clients and persuades them to make an appointment with you, and that strengthens your relationship with existing clients.
The speed of the Internet lends itself well to communicating the latest news to your clients via your website. For instance, if you have activities and announcements about classes, open houses, discounts, promotions and product specials, you can make changes to your website in minutes at little or no cost-in comparison to the expense of reprinting brochures.
To get started, purchase a Web hosting package. Contact a Web hosting provider such as www.1and1.com, www.godaddy.com or www.networksolutions.com. Choose a domain name that makes sense not only to you but also to your target clients. For example, if you decide to design and build your own site, you can purchase templates to aid you with the look and structure. Get these from sites such as www.templatemonster.com.
If you are going to hire someone to design, make sure you ask to see his or her portfolio and contact clients who can serve as references. A reputable website designer will charge about $1,500 for an average website.
Once your site is built, make sure you promote it using services such as Google Adwords, Yahoo! Search Engine Marketing and Microsoft adCenter. These are very inexpensive and powerful ways to advertise your practice online, because they allow you to target your local area and reach your clients through the search engines your clients use.
Check Issue 6's Online Resources at www.futureLMT.com for more advice on creating your own site.
Get hip to the lingo. Learn the meaning of such terms as "Web host" and "TCP/IP" by reading "Internet Terminology."
MASSAGE Magazine's VP, Web Operations and Audience Development, Manuel Lirio, contributed to this article. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.